How to Keep Your Baby Safe While Sleeping

{Guest post from Arielle Greenleaf, Founder and Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant at Expect to Sleep Again Sleep Consulting}

While public opinion may lead you to believe that keeping your baby safe while sleeping is complicated, in reality, it’s quite simple. In order to keep your infant under the age of 12 months safe, the American Academy of Pediatrics breaks it down for you:

ALONE - infants should refrain from sharing their sleep space with a parent in an effort to avoid preventable, accidental deaths. While an infant should sleep in her own crib or bassinet, it IS recommended that she share a room with her caregivers for the first year of life for prevention of SIDS related deaths.

While the controversy continues over bedsharing (commonly known as co-sleeping), evidence supports the notion that room-sharing is the safer option for those who choose to be close by to their infants during the night.

BACK - It’s crucial that infants be placed FLAT on their backs for all sleep. While many products consider themselves “sleepers,” in fact, upon deeper investigation into their safety FAQs, infants are NOT to sleep in any sort of position other than on a firm, flat surface. This reduces the risk of positional asphyxiation.

In fact, the AAP and other safety organizations have been actively working to protect consumers from products marketed for sleep. Most recently, this has led to the recall of many popular products including the ever-popular Fischer Price Rock ‘n Play.

In reality, any sort of positioner for an infant (car seat, bouncer, swing, etc) can put a baby at risk for positional asphyxiation. While some babies have been prescribed a wedge for treatment of reflux, many GI doctors have stopped the use of wedges due to the safety risk, as well as the evidence that has suggested that positioners do not improve symptoms of reflux.

CRIB - As you’ve gathered from everything above, the crib is the safest place for your infant to sleep. While seemingly stark, your baby’s crib is safest with simply a fitted sheet (plus your baby in a sleepsack or swaddle!). Wearable blankets or sleepsacks or a great way to help your baby feel cozy and warm without the use of a blanket.

Common Question - Do I need to flip my baby onto her back if she flips onto her stomach after I put her down?

Answer: No! Once a baby is able to get to her belly on her own, it is perfectly safe for her to roll onto her belly for sleep AS LONG AS her sleep space is firm and flat, and free of pillows, blankets, lovies, stuffed animals, or any other loose objects.

When it comes to safe infant sleep, keep it simple: give your baby her own sleep space free of any excess bedding or toys; always place her on her back (but remember it’s ok if she flips herself!); and always use a firm, flat surface for sleep (crib/bassinet/portable crib).

Arielle Greenleaf is the Founder and Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant at Expect to Sleep Again Sleep Consulting, LLC. She became a self-proclaimed "sleep geek" after the birth of her daughter, and have since made it her mission to help families get the rest they need in order to enjoy a happier, healthier life. She offers a variety of services including sleep-specific Facebook troubleshooting groups, in-person workshops, and individualized sleep consultations. Learn more at Expect to Sleep Again Sleep Consulting.